America’s Catholics were once among the Democrats’ largest voting blocs. This year, that advantage is gone as Catholics are poised to turn against them.
In May, when Pope Benedict assigned Bishop William E. Lori to be the new spiritual leader of the Diocese of Baltimore (America’s oldest diocese), he was sending a message directly to Barack Obama and his Democrats – especially elected Catholic Democrats.
Bishop Lori chairs the U.S. Conference of Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee For Religious Liberty, which was formed specifically by Cardinal Timothy Dolan (the organization’s head), to oppose gay marriage and combat Obamacare’s mandates aimed at forcing Catholic employers to include contraception and abortion in their workers’ healthcare packages.
Upon being named to his new post, Bishop Lori said he planned to confront Maryland’s putatively Catholic Governor Martin O’Malley about his support for gay “marriage.”
“The church has clearly and consistently taught the greatness of marriage between one man and one woman. Certainly, I will continue that teaching as a bishop and will be working on this issue as the referendum unfolds,” Lori said at the time.
This past week, speaking to the national convention of the Knights of Columbus- America’s leading Catholic layman’s organization-Bishop Lori could not have been clearer when he said, “This is a big moment for Catholic voters to step back from their party affiliation.”
Speaking directly to Catholic voters, the Bishop advises: “The question to ask is this: Are any of the candidates of either party, or independents, standing for something that is intrinsically evil, evil no matter what the circumstances? If that’s the case, a Catholic, regardless of his party affiliation, shouldn’t be voting for such a person.”
In coordination with this opening shot across the Democrats’ bow, the Vatican has commented on the erosion of religious freedoms in America as being a serious threat of “unprecedented gravity” to the Catholic Church’s “liberty and public moral witness.”
This message needs to be carefully considered. It is a huge departure from the positions taken by the Vatican on American politics. Never has a Pope been as blunt in his language as he warned his people about the dangers facing his American Catholic brothers and sisters.
The election of Cardinal Dolan to lead the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Lori’s appointment to lead the diocese in Obama’s backyard, and the several other key appointments the Vatican has made within the structure of America’s Catholic hierarchy did not “just happen.” Those who would believe they were haphazard and coincidental do so at their own political peril.
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